Halfway through this milestone issue of The Walking Dead I had to put it down. It was just that severe, that violent—even by the standards put down by author Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard. If that sounds a bit asinine I couldn’t agree with you more. After all, these are fictional characters in a comic book, there to amuse and entertain, not emotionally damage. I couldn’t help it. I’ve been reading The Walking Dead for a few years now and I’ve grown attached to the characters, watching many of them die while others survive trial and after trial, growing into the most damaged human beings in comics. Whatever these characters were before the dead started walking is long gone, replaced by a version of humanity not seen in centuries, when people lived day to day, worrying about raiders or conquerors coming by to rape and pillage wantonly. The Walking Dead creators promised something special for the 100th issue and they delivered, even if this installment is sad, terrifying, and contains the most violent moment since Michonne tortured The Governor years ago.
**Warning: Spoilers Ahead (and I mean spoilers. If you don’t want this issue ruined I’d suggest turning back at this point since I’m giving away the issue’s whole climax, which is incredible even if it’s disturbing.)**
Glenn’s dead. The mysterious Negan isn’t mysterious any longer, ambushing Rick, Carl, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Sophia, and Heath on their way to The Hilltop. Rick seriously underestimated Negan’s forces, which outnumber Rick’s travelling band by about five to one. Extremely displeased with Rick and his people killing some of his men, Negan decides to make a statement by beating Glenn’s head in with a barb wire covered baseball bat he calls Lucille. This is where I had to put the issue down, as Glenn’s death was utterly gruesome, taking up over five pages. By the end Glenn’s head wasn’t even a head; it was a mangled mess, with blood, brains, and skull taking up an entire page.
Here’s where I find myself feeling a bit silly: Glenn’s a character. Granted, he’s a character in a comic book I absolutely love—and also a character that’s survived since the first few issues—but he’s still fictional nonetheless. Yet, I found myself disturbed by his death, feeling a damper put on the rest of my day. This has to be a testament to Kirkman’s storytelling prowess, creating characters you become emotionally invested in, whose death can fuck with you.
There’s also the issue of those at Rick’s camp, who are waiting around for their comrades and the possibility of yet another attack by Negan’s men. Andrea’s skepticism regarding their safety isn’t foolish, as some of Negan’s goons are hiding out, awaiting daylight and the beginning of their offensive. So, even though The Walking Dead’s 100th issue focuses primarily on Rick’s misadventures with Negan and Glenn’s horrific death, the next issue promises even more violence. It seems the safety Rick was talking about a few issues back was a pipe dream and it’s only a matter of time before other prominent characters end up like Glenn. Just when Kirkman makes you think the story’s going one way he pulls it in an entirely new direction, changing the rules as he goes along. He can do that though; after all, it’s his book.
By the way, for the obsessive collectors out there, this issue of The Walking Dead has eight different covers. What the hell? While the artwork on each cover is excellent, with covers by Adlard, Todd McFarlane (Spawn), Ryan Ottley (Invincible), Mark Silvestri (Cyberforce, the new Incredible Hulk books), and others, it’s a bit much. Unfortunately, my local comic book shop didn’t have the cover I wanted, which features a zombified grandma. Click here to check it out.